Remarriage (Matthew 19:4–6)
An Awesome Challenge
The question of remarriage is closely related to the matter of divorce. The Scripture lifts up permanent, monogamous union as the plan of the Creator (Mt 19:4–6). To understand the strong language of Scripture concerning this matter, look at the whole of Scripture to see how God regards marriage. The marriage bond between husband and wife is the same kinship bond that exists between parents and children and between God and his creation (Ge 2:24; Mt 19:6).
Some argue that remarriage is never permissible (Mk 10:11–12). Others note that the divorce teaching of Jesus includes an exception (Mt 5:32; 19:9) and conclude that this implies permission to remarry. Still others suggest that the understood meaning of “divorce” in ancient law included freedom to remarry, suggesting that remarriage is forbidden only after an invalid divorce. Finally, there are those who deny that Jesus gives a justification for divorce in the modern sense, although they allow that remarriage is permissible if reconciliation with a divorced spouse is rendered impossible because of death or remarriage of the divorced spouse to another partner (1Co 7:10–11), or if the divorced spouse is a nonbeliever opposed to reconciliation (1Co 7:15).
Despite these differences of Biblical interpretation, some important conclusions can be drawn:
(1) Once remarriage follows divorce, there is no turning back (Dt 24:1–4), and the tearing apart of a marriage is painful, leaving its scars on all who are touched by the tragedy.
(2) God sees the one-flesh relationship as permanent and binding because it is the picture he has chosen to portray his relationship to his children, and thus he guards the home with great zeal (Mal 2:16).
(3) Jesus gives no divine directive nor even acceptable excuses for breaking this holy covenant but rather observes that the hardness of the human heart makes such tragedy a reality in this sinful world (Mt 19:8).
(4) The role of the church and of believers must always be redemptive. With God, forgiveness is as if it never happened. No sin or tragedy is beyond God’s forgiveness.
After seeking and receiving God’s forgiveness, a woman who remarries has a new understanding of God’s incredible grace. She must then seek anew an understanding of God’s plan for marriage (Ge 2:24), commit herself wholeheartedly to pursuing his plan and consider her vows of marriage binding before the Lord (Mt 19:5–6).
Taken from The Woman’s Study Bible
When Reason Serves Rebellion
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13)
This is not what I expected the proverb to say. I would have expected it to say “The coward says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!’” But it says, “sluggard,” not “coward.” So the controlling emotion here is laziness, not fear.
But what does laziness have to do with the danger of a lion in the street? We don’t say, “This man is too lazy to go do his work because there is a lion outside.”
The point is that the sluggard creates imaginary circumstances to justify not doing his work, and thus shifts the focus from the vice of his laziness to the danger of lions. No one will approve his staying in the house all day just because he is lazy.
One profound biblical insight we need to know is that our heart exploits our mind to justify what the heart wants. That is, our deepest desires precede the rational functioning of our minds and incline the mind to perceive and think in a way that will make the desires look right.
This is what the sluggard is doing. He deeply desires to stay at home and not work. There is no good reason to stay at home. So what does he do? Does he overcome his bad desire? No, he uses his mind to create unreal circumstances to justify his desire.
Doing the evil we love makes us hostile to the light of truth. In this condition the mind becomes a factory of half-truths, equivocations, sophistries, evasions and lies — anything to protect the evil desires of the heart from exposure and destruction.
Consider and be wise.
After Elihu finishes his speech, God enters the conversation and speaks directly to Job.
Justice I Am
“Is it your wisdom that makes the hawk soar and spread its wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle rises to the heights to make its nest? It lives on the cliffs, making its home on a distant, rocky crag. From there it hunts its prey, keeping watch with piercing eyes. Its young gulp down blood. Where there’s a carcass, there you’ll find it.”
Then the Lord said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”
God asked Job questions to demonstrate the limits of Job’s knowledge. God was helping Job to recognize and submit to his power and sovereignty. Only then could Job really begin to know God and understand his justice.
The wrong view of justice says that God must abide by a law of fairness that is higher and more absolute than he is. That view comes out when we question whether God is being unfair.
The correct view, however, is that God himself is the standard of justice. He uses his power according to his own moral perfection. Thus, whatever he does is fair, even when we don’t understand it. Our response should be to appeal directly to him.
How do you contend with or accuse Almighty God? Do you demand answers when you lose a job, someone close to you is ill or dies, finances are tight, you fail, or things don’t go your way? The next time you complain to God, don’t lose sight of how much he loves you. And remember Job’s reaction when he had his chance to speak. Are you worse off than Job or more righteous than he was? Give God a chance to reveal his greater purposes for you, but remember that they may unfold over the course of your life and not at the moment you desire.
Are you expecting God to work on your terms? If so, confess it to him and submit to his sovereign and perfect will.
Streams in the Desert – June 11
And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, (2 Tim 2:24)
When God conquers us and takes all the flint out of our nature, and we get deep visions into the Spirit of Jesus, we then see as never before the great rarity of gentleness of spirit in this dark and unheavenly world.
The graces of the Spirit do not settle themselves down upon us by chance, and if we do not discern certain states of grace, and choose them, and in our thoughts nourish them, they never become fastened in our nature or behavior.
Every advance step in grace must be preceded by first apprehending it, and then a prayerful resolve to have it.
So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness, and crucifixion involves suffering; it is a real breaking and crushing of self, which wrings the heart and conquers the mind.
There is a good deal of mere mental and logical sanctification nowadays, which is only a religious fiction. It consists of mentally putting one’s self on the altar, and then mentally saying the altar sanctifies the gift, and then logically concluding therefore one is sanctified; and such an one goes forth with a gay, flippant, theological prattle about the deep things of God.
But the natural heartstrings have not been snapped, and the Adamic flint has not been ground to powder, and the bosom has not throbbed with the lonely, surging sighs of Gethsemane; and not having the real death marks of Calvary, there cannot be that soft, sweet, gentle, floating, victorious, overflowing, triumphant life that flows like a spring morning from an empty tomb.
—G. D. W.
“And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).